The EB-5 visa is a way to get your green card and permanent residency through investment. The EB-5 investor visa program enables foreigners who make an investment in a U.S. business to obtain a green card and become lawful permanent residents, and eventual citizens, of the United States. The investment can lead to a green card for the investor to permanently live and work in the United States with their spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21. The EB-5 visa program is operated by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The program was established by the United States Congress in 1990 to facilitate increased investment in the U.S. economy.
Direct Investment and EB-5 Regional Centers
EB-5 investor visa applicants have two main investment options. They can either invest directly or through an EB-5 Regional Center. Direct investors must find their own investment project and must take a direct managerial role in overseeing that project. Direct investment is best for those who want more hands-on control of their investment and the project that received their investment.
EB-5 investor visa applicants can also make their investment in an EB-5 Regional Center. This option may be best for those who are more interested in the immigration goals of EB-5 rather than obtaining a maximum return on their investment. Regional centers receive designation from USCIS to administer EB-5 investment projects. Regional centers are responsible for adhering to USCIS EB-5 program regulations. This takes strain off of the investors so that they are not solely responsible for meeting program requirements. As a result, investment through regional centers suits those who want a more hands-off approach, where they are not responsible for the direct management of their investment. Roughly 90 percent of all EB-5 applicants invest through a regional center.
Required EB-5 Investment Amount
EB-5 visa applicants are typically required to make either a $500,000 or $1 million capital investment amount into a U.S. commercial enterprise. The EB-5 investment can take the form of cash, inventory, equipment, secured indebtedness, tangible property, or cash equivalents and is valuated based on U.S. dollar fair-market value.
The minimum amount of capital required for the EB-5 visa program may be decreased from $1 million to $500,000 if the investment is made in a commercial entity that is located in a targeted employment area (TEA). The EB-5 project must either be in a rural area or in an area that has high unemployment in order to qualify for TEA designation.
High unemployment areas are geographic locations with an unemployment rate that is at least 150 percent of the national unemployment rate at the time of the EB-5 investment. Rural areas are geographic regions that are outside of a city with a population of 20,000 or more. Rural areas can also be geographic regions that are outside of what the U.S. Office of Management and Budget has designated as metropolitan statistical areas.
EB-5 Job Creation Requirements
The USCIS requires that EB-5 investments result in the creation of 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers. These jobs must be created within the two year period after the investor has received their conditional permanent residency. In some cases, the investor must be able to prove that their investment led to the creation of direct jobs for employees who work directly within the commercial entity that received the investment. However, the EB-5 investor may only have to show that 10 full-time indirect or induced jobs were created if the investment was made in a regional center. Indirect jobs are those created in businesses that supply goods or services to the EB-5 project. Induced jobs are jobs created within the greater community as a result of income being spent by EB-5 project employees.
EB-5 Business Entities
There are several types of business entities in which an EB-5 visa applicant can invest. In general, the applicants can invest directly in a new commercial enterprise or in a regional center. New commercial enterprises are lawful for-profit entities that can take one of many different business structures. Such business structures include corporations, limited or general partnerships, sole proprietorships, business trusts, or other privately or publicly owned business structures. All new commercial enterprises must have been established after November 29, 1990.
However, older commercial enterprises may qualify if the investment leads to a 40-percent increase in the number of employees or net worth, or if an older business is restructured to such a degree that a new commercial enterprise results. In addition to individual business enterprises, EB-5 visa applicants can also invest in EB-5 Regional Centers. Regional centers administer EB-5 projects. It may be more advantageous for an investor to invest in a regional center-run project because the investor will not have to independently set up the EB-5 projects.
EB-5 Visa Requirements Summary
$1 million capital investment, $500,000 in a TEA
The investment must be made in a for-profit U.S. commercial entity
The investment must create 10 full-time U.S. jobs for two years